With its massive 18.4-inch screen and total weight of nearly 4kg, Acer’s Aspire Ethos 8951G isn’t the kind of laptop you’re going to carry around much – unless you happen to have a crush on a nurse in your local spinal injuries ward, that is. But if you plan on leaving it one place most of the time, it’s awesome.
The 8951G has two massive selling points. Firstly, it’s a fine desktop replacement. The quad core processor and vast amount of storage mean it’s a better performer than most PCs. You just need to glance at the performance benchmarks to realize how much faster than any of the dual core Sandy Bridge laptops this is.
The top-of-the-range Sandy Bridge Core i7 chip can handle the latest games and high-definition movies. If you’re a creative type who spends their time editing and rendering HD movies, or using complex software, this level of power is essential.
The screen is more than comfortable enough for working on for long periods of time, too, and there’s plenty of extra power to drive a second monitor if you want.
Its second raison d’etre is to replace your entertainment devices. And we mean all of them. For starters, there’s all that hard drive space; perfect for storing lots of videos and music. Then there are the above par speakers – you could easily watch a movie on this laptop and enjoy both the sounds and sights that HD has to offer. This is thanks to a built-in subwoofer for decent audio and a high-contrast screen capable of the inkiest blacks that the Blu-ray drive can throw at it.
Its neatest trick, though, is the detachable mouse pad. If you’ve left the 8581G plugged into your TV for example, you can simply remove the track pad and watch as it doubles up into a wireless media remote. A small button in one comer lights up standard playback controls and converts the multitouch sensor into a fully functioning remote.
But what’s most surprising about this notebook is its battery life. The cell itself isn’t easily accessible, but in our tests it kept the Aspire going for over three hours – unusual for a large laptop like this.
The battery life is helped by the fact that the 8951G can, like the Dell XPS 14z, switch between the low power Intel graphics and a higher performing Nvidia chip at will. That gives it by far the best games performance on test here, and this Acer is quite capable of playing most games at reasonable graphics settings. It is also worth pointing out that if your sole purpose for buying a laptop is to play games, MSI and Samsung both have slightly smaller models with far better graphics capabilities at similar price points.